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Annual Meeting Procedures

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Guidelines for Organizing an ESAF Annual Meeting

Compiled by the committee for the 59th Annual ESAF meetings in Pittsburgh, PA (Verna Cowin, ESAF President), which was hosted by The Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology

One person -- an event coordinator, should be named to oversee the entire planning process.  THE COORDINATOR CAN MAKE OTHER ASSIGNMENTS TOO. Spread the workload -- (Name a committee for each major task!)

Recruit volunteer help from the Host Society or offer free admission to papers for students who volunteer to man registration or book room desks.

Arrange for banquet speaker's room, travel, and food, including their banquet expenses.

Corporate sponsors for hospitality and break food is a good way to defray costs.  Have a committee person contact local CRM people to ask for donations.  Acknowledge them with signs during the meeting and written acknowledgement to ensure future donations.

Thursday-tour day

The President's Reception traditionally is held on Thursday evening, and generally lasts for two hours - approximately from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Cash bar and minimal snacks are required. Expense paid by host chapter and accounted for in final tally.  There is no separate billing for ESAF and host. This event can be held in the hospitality room if liquor can be brought in from outside.  It is usually not well attended


Canadian American Friendship Party: Use the hospitality room if you are permitted to bring in liquor from outside.
Minimal snacks are necessary.  Contact: Mima Kapches <mima.kapches@sympatico.ca> with information regarding permission to bring the beer from Canada. 

ESAF Business Meeting: Plan for 13-16 people in a separate area, at a u-shaped table with seating on both sides.  The meetings are taped and this arrangement works best for that. There should be a soup/sandwich/salad buffet luncheon arranged to be available about 15 minutes before the start of the meeting.  Getting food first also minimizes external noise. The lunch expense is also included in the total billing.

Faye Stocum <faye.stocum@state.de.us> ESAF secretary and Timothy Abel <tabel@twcny.rr.com> treasurer are good sources of information for arrangements and financial questions.  Roger Moeller is the go to person for contacts and information. alchemy60@sbcglobal.net. 


1.  Name the program chair at or prior to the current ESAF meeting.  Ideas for symposia and papers can be generated a year in advance.  The past two years an information sheet and an early call for papers and symposia topics were circulated at the annual meeting.  It really helps if individual session chairpersons can also be named early; they can take the responsibility to organize a complete session -- then merely report their results to the Chair.

 2.  Issue a formal call for papers in January.  The Program Chair may design this OR may submit all pertinent information to Roger Moeller in time for him to include with a regular ESAF mailing.  The Call for Papers is mailed to ESAF individual members, to contact persons in the member state societies (President, Journal or Newsletter Editors), and to persons known to be doing research of interest to ESAF members.  If too few papers result from the “call,” papers can be solicited from colleagues or a separate call for papers mailed gain to possible participants.  Try to get the abstracts early in the process.  In one or all the mailings, set a time limit for presentations.  Twenty minutes seems adequate, but you could offer a longer time slot if someone requests it.  Build a little extra time into coffee breaks and lunch as buffers to those few who never get finished on time.

At Pittsburgh, we sent a separate mailing to all members of the Pennsylvania Archaeological Council and to all members of The Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology.  These mailings were largely responsible for the attendance of 111 Pennsylvanians.

 3.  Confer with the Host Society about the banquet speaker -- try to select someone who will draw a large local crowd as well as persons from states some distance away.  Past speakers include: Herbert Kraft, Dennis Stanford, Jeremy Sabloff, Jim Tuck, James B. Griffen, Joffre L. Coe, and James V. Wright.

4.  Scheduling the sessions:  At Columbus and Pittsburgh, the symposium thought to have the highest local interest was scheduled for Sunday morning.  This seems to counter the usual Sunday problem of people wanting to leave; those who live the closest do seem to stay if the symposium is important to them.  At the Virginia meetings, a general sessions was scheduled for Sunday and very few persons attended and some of the speakers failed to show up.

Once the program is set, notify each speaker about the time of his/her paper; we also sent a copy of the Abstract as it was to appear in the program in order to get any corrections (this is especially important if the abstracts are edited).  It is also a good idea to send registration forms and information to each presenter…in case they are not on regular ESAF or state society mailing lists.

Printed Program:  We found it easiest to set up the program on a computer -- input the data as it comes; adjust as needed and add the edited abstracts.  Graphics can be pasted or taped to the final, camera-ready copy.  A printer can be used or, to save money, the copy can be sent to a “quick” photocopy house.  We provided the cover stock, had them do the cover and the contents.  We assembled and stapled the programs, using volunteers (you will need a long-arm stapler).  Run approximately 300 copies.  After program is finalized, copy your disk with the abstracts and send one hard copy and a disk to the Bulletin editor.

Use symposia organizers to chair their own sessions.  Recruit moderators for other sessions and inform the moderators about time limits.  At Pittsburgh, each moderator was sent information needed for the introductions about two weeks before the meeting.

Meeting Announcements:  Plan to have the program set by the middle of August.  Roger Moeller needs some time to duplicate the announcement and circulate to as many state societies as possible.  Final copy should be in his hands before the end of August (he will remind you of this).  Copies of past announcements are attached; we preferred to have the reservation forms on a separate sheet rather than part of the announcement.


Some attenders will come Thursday afternoon if the tour is attractive enough.  This can be handled through the pre-registration; determine if private cars will be used (have directions available).  If bus(es) must be rented -- then show the fee for transportation on the reservation blank.  If a fee is involved, be sure to have the cut-off date early enough to cancel the bus service if there re not enough participants to make the tour a financial success.

We suggest that tours not be scheduled for times when papers are being presented.


1.  Lodging, Meeting Rooms, Other Rooms, Banquet

Begin on this when you know that ESAF is scheduled in your area.  In smaller cities and towns, you may have to reserve an entire hotel/motel for the meetings so it is good to have arrangements more than a year in advance.  This allows you to publicize the event during the current ESAF meeting.

In or near large cities; tourist information or convention bureau offices are willing to circulate initial invitations to “bid” on the convention.  This does provide some framework from which to barter; often, the larger hotels with better facilities will meet a competitor’s price just to get the business.

Special rates?  We found it helpful to stress that many members of ESAF are  non-professional and have to pay their own way.  (Try to barter the number of rooms required to get meeting/hospitality/book room space without a fee; you can also barter number of banquet tickets and lunches needed to get such things as morning coffee, etc.  Set cut-off dates for special room rates.  Inquire if there will be a choice of Smoking vs Non-Smoking rooms.

As a rule, you can usually count on 50 rooms and 100+ persons for the banquet.  Depending on the availability of nearby restaurants, you may want to offer lunches at headquarters.  (If the host society is tax exempt and you collect the meal fees, you may be able to avoid sales tax but that will vary from state to state -- check regulations).

2.  Meeting Rooms

Sufficient space for 250 persons for meetings all day Friday and Saturday and Sunday morning.  Paper sessions are set theater style with a front table, chairs, a podium with light, microphone, pitcher and glasses with water.  Same room or another of at least equal size for the Saturday evening banquet; tables set banquet style -- head table for ca 10-12 individuals -- decide who will be seated there before the banquet and have name tags on the table.  Arrange for any AV needs of the banquet speaker.  Confer with the hotel/motel on choices of served or buffet-style dinner, menu§) and cost -- including tax, if applicable, and gratuities.  Set the cost for the banquet accordingly; if you anticipate low registration because of location, be sure to increase the banquet fee to cover some of the speaker’s expenses.

3.  Hospitality Room

This should be located away from the sleeping rooms; or, at the very least, located at the end of a corridor (there have been complaints about noise from persons not involved with the meetings).  The hospitality room(s) should be large enough to contain the group -- try to avoid a lot of persons drinking and talking in hallways.  Find out in advance if the hotel/motel has any restrictions concerning the time all noise must cease.

Work with the management for permission to bring in alcoholic beverages and food.  The information about the Canadian/American party helps here -- indicate that the Canadians bring in refreshments as a gesture of hospitality to ESAF members.  Inquiry if the hotel/motel can provide suitable container(s) for icing the beverages.  (Otherwise, it’s the old washtub.)

Since three local chapters of SPA hosted the ESAF meetings in Pittsburgh, each chapter took responsibility for serving as hosts in the room -- one night (Thursday, Friday and Saturday).  They were responsible for procuring beverages and food, setting up the refreshments and cleaning up afterwards.  Their costs were reimbursed from the fees.  Beer does not have to be brought in for the Annual Canadian/American beer party.  Traditionally, the Canadians and many of the Americans bring cases of their favorite brew for this party.

4.  Book and/or Display Room

A book room contact person should be named early in the process.  This way, vendors know whom to contact. A table fee should be charged to defray expenses charged by the hotel. VENDORS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO SET UP THEIR TABLES BEFORE THE ROOM OPENS FOR BUSINESS.  (It is difficult to conduct sales and work with vendors at the same time.)

Room(s) should accommodate the number of vendors expected and be set up with tables that are easy to walk around and view the merchandise and displays.  Room should have access to as many chairs as are needed to accommodate vendors and sales personnel.

Book vendors should be instructed to clearly label their books with a price.

5.  Registration Area

Space in lobby, hall, or room with tables and chairs.  Skirts on the tables provide hidden space to store packets, programs, etc.  A bulletin board and/or message board would be helpful.  Packets should be prepared just prior to the meeting and contain the printed program, information about local restaurants and beverage stores, as well as tourist information (if available).  Maps are always helpful -- if they cannot be put in packets, post one or two in the registration area.

At Pittsburgh, one SPA Chapter took the responsibility of manning the registration desk.  The person in charge of finances was available almost full-time to assist with this important task.  Have at least $100 in change for the opening registration period.

For those not pre-registered, have blank registration forms on hand for them to fill out and check for meals, banquet, or other extra offerings.  These forms are extremely useful for cross-checking the accounting.  The registration forms are also used to tally the attendance report -- the number of registrations by state is reported at the banquet.  Other equipment needed for the registration table includes: blank name tags and holders, markers for writing the tags, any stickers, dots, or whatever to distinguish speakers, hosts, and/or ESAF officers.

Have ESAF membership blanks available at the registration desk and ask each person stopping at the desk if they are an ESAF member, if they would like to join or renew at this time.  Roger will bring the blanks if asked.

Know where photocopies can be made and the price for the service.  Some officers and presenters request use of photocopy services for handouts.

6.  Hotel/Motel Contract

Try to get a formal, written contract that gives details of all being provided and the fees for each.  This is most important when dealing with a large hotel chain where sales personnel transfer often.  Sometimes deals made with one sales person will not be honored by a replacement unless there is a clear, written agreement of what is being provided by the hotel/motel.


1.  Room Set-Up -- Theater Style

Find out in advance where the electrical outlets are and have sufficient extension cords available.

Find out in advance how to control the lights for presenters using slides.  Practice using the switches and dimmers.  Assign someone to man the lights either for the whole program or for each session.

Table, podium with light, manual flashlight/laser pointer, pitcher and glasses with water.

2.  Audio/Visual

Have the program chair determine if any presenter needs any AV equipment beyond the normal PowerPoint projector (such as overhead projector or 35mm slide projection); then arrange to have the equipment on hand for the sessions.

Inquire if the hotel/motel has a large enough screen; if not, make arrangements to get one.  Use hotel projectors if available; find out if there are fees for the equipment.  Equipment can be rented; however, it saves money if a local institution is willing to loan the equipment for use at the meetings.

You will need two projectors, each with a spare bulb.  (Murphy’s Law: You will not need the second projector if you have it!; you  will not even need the spare bulbs if you have them!  If you don’t have spares, you will surely have a breakdown!).  Remember to have a remote control or else a long extension slide changer on the podium.  A light on the podium is essential.  Arrange to have electrical extension cords and slide-changer cords taped down if they have to be stretches where people walk to and from their seats.

Assign someone to man the projector -- either for the whole meeting or by the day or session.  Check set-up before the papers begin to adjust the height of the projection and to attain the largest screen-view possible.  Make sure that other equipment (such as an overhead projector) does not interfere with the projection of the slides.


The ESAF Treasurer (address below) can advance enough money to open a bank account.  Perhaps a savings account is best because that avoids bank charges; however, many checks will have to be written when the meetings conclude.  Another way to get “seed” money is to ask chapters of the host society to contribute (generally $25).  These “advances” are returned if the meetings show a profit.

1.  Designate one person to receive the registration forms and fees, assist with the design of the registration forms (check list of all offered with the prices), and keep the books for the meeting.  A separate bank account should be set up and forms should indicate where checks (American dollars) are to be sent and how made payable.  Accounting work sheets are good for listing registration fees, lunches, banquet reservations, tours, etc. for each registrant.  Tickets worked well for special events and meals -- these were placed in small, plastic zip-lock bags and inserted into the packets.  “Generic” tickets are reasonable to purchase; we simply typed, photocopied and cut tickets for each event or meal on heavy paper stock.

2.  Large amounts of cash will be generated at the registration desk and in the book room.  Periodically, remove excess cash to the motel/hotel safe if they have one.  You may want to transfer some of the cash to the motel/hotel as part-payment for services -- get a receipt if you do this.

3.  Provide name tags -- we were able to get someone to print the pre-registered tags; however, it is acceptable to provide blank tags for registrants to complete by themselves.  Computers are a big help with pre-printed tags; tag inserts with computer tracks are available at most office supply stores.

4. ESAF pays the banquet speaker's expenses and reserves the hotel room for him/her.  The room, travel expenses and a $200 honoraria are paid from the meeting revenues.

5.  At the close of the Annual Meeting, pay all bills including the book vendors at 90% of their total sales, account for income and expenses, and send a report along with any profit to the ESAF Treasurer: treasurer@esaf-archeology.org





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